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In the raging competition to sell full-size tricks, Ford came out with the Raptor as its pinnacle to convert a normal work pickup into a high-performance off-roader, and the competition followed, leading to the Ram T-Rex, among others, in the quest to build the biggest, baddest pickup in the neighborhood.
Now the trend has spread to other vehicles.
The ultimate off-road vehicle for several decades has been the Jeep Wrangler, coming in various iterations through the years. But Ford has declared its intentions to challenge the Wrangler with a version of its hot-selling Bronco, and added the Raptor nickname to tell the world that it has gotten a major transformation toward ruggedness.
If the standard was to design the Bronco Raptor to look impressive, it clicked on all counts. Differentiating it from the normal Bronco, which comes in either Sport or full size, Ford took the full-size 4-door Bronco and changed suspension, handling, power and style features from its front tow-hooks to its rear door-mounted spare tire.
The first thing you notice is best-noticed at night or in subdued light, when its lights are on, because a cleverly-placed hor-izontal amber LED bar splits the round headlights in half, piercing an amber circle that surrounds each headlight. Helpful lower foglights are also positioned, built into the front bumper and flanking the skid plate, which is made more conspicuous with its silver color.
Those neat LED trim lights are more than just trim, but are required to warn oncoming traffic that your vehicle is wider than 80 inches, since the Bronco Raptor is nearly 86 inches wide.
The color on the test vehicle was a very interesting dark green, called “Eruption Green Metallic,” and was complemented by black onyx seats inside, of a tough but comfortable material, trimmed in leather. The whole interior has that orange or amber trim lines, including on very handy grip-handles that are located at about chest height on the ends of the dashboard, rather than on the ceiling, where they would be difficult to reach if you were a normal-sized human trying to enter the very tall Bronco Raptor.
Under the hood, instead of one of the very capable EcoBoost 4-cylinder engines, the Raptor has a 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6, with a 10-speed automatic transmission and twin turbochargers. The engine is an enlarged bore and stroke version of the familiar 2.7-liter V6 used for years by Ford and still a potent part of the company’s engine arsenal. Power estimates are 430 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque.
Heavy-duty shift paddles adorn the steering wheel, and are beneficial to keep that 10-speed where you want it.
The suspension has special off-road equipment, such as Dana 50 live rear axle and Fox competition shocks. The 17-inch alloy wheels look bigger than that, because they have 37-inch circumference all-terrain tires mounted. They are so big that the Bronco Raptor has to have widened fenders that seem like outriggers and cause the vehicle’s width to grow so much.
If Ford is trying to compete with Wrangler’s top models, it must be aware that the Jeeps are trying to make a transition from sheer off-road to livable on-road comfort, and of course Ford has a big edge coming from the comfort end and bolstering every part to be rugged.
Along with very comfortable and supportive bucket seats, you get a 10-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system to fill the interior with your favorites sounds.
Every passer-by and nearby parking lot driver stared and smiled and/or commented about how striking the Bronco Raptor looked. A good friend remarked about how it was the farthest-out Jeep he’d ever seen, and he was amazed when I told him it was a Ford Bronco Raptor.
My wife, Joan, was impressed at how deceptive it was, looking so rugged but riding and driving so smoothly. After she drove it herself, Joan was even more impressed, although when I told her the price tag she backed off a bit.
The base price for the Broinco 4-door Advanced 4x4 is $68,500, but once you add the special 3.0 twin-turbo engine and all the Raptor stuff, you are up to an actual sticker price of $75,770. At that, I am aware that getting a Bronco Raptor is so rare that dealers are tacking on premiums of up to $30,000 on top of that – boosting the price well over $100,000.
But if you want the biggest, baddest, on- and off-road beast available today, that’s what the going demand is driving the price to.
And then, you might get one by July!